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Skins quotes 12/31: Shanahan


The Commissioner
Staff member
BGO Ownership Group
Apr 11, 2009
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Greensboro, NC
Military Branch
Marine Corps
Alma Mater
December 31, 2012
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On his postseason preparation:
“We’ll have a normal week. We’ll have normal preparation because playing on Sunday gives us the chance to have two days of preparation and treat each day like you do during the regular season. So, that’s always a plus. The following week, both teams will have one less day of preparation. Hopefully we’re in that situation. You never know during the playoffs what day you’re going to be asked to play, so you have to be ready for either one.”

On if his message to the players changes during the playoffs:
“No. It’s the same routine. We either have a three game season or a four game season. That’s your goal, obviously the teams with the bye have a three game season and everyone in the Wild Card is hoping for a four game season and that’s where you’re focus is. The job at hand...and that’s what your goal is, to accomplish what you set out to do.”

On status of suspended cornerback Cedric Griffin:
“He will return. He’ll get a chance to practice this week with us. We can decide at the end of the week if he is in shape or not, so we don’t have to make the decision until the end of the week. We’ll see how he is, what type of shape he’s in and if he’s able to help us.”

On how much Griffin can help the secondary:
“It all depends on what type of shape he’s in. Any time a guy is out for four weeks you’re hoping he can come in and help you just like he was when he left. But, we’ll see that as we go through practice.”

On speaking with rookies about the difference between the regular season and the playoffs:
“Nothing really changes. You’re getting ready like you do every week. I think everybody on your football team understands at the beginning of the season what your first goal is and that’s to have a home field game. That’s what you’re shooting for. Winning the NFC East, we’ve been able to accomplish that. Everything now comes down to a four week season or five weeks depending if it’s one or two weeks with the Super Bowl. That’s the mindset from the beginning. You talk about it. You talk about the ability to get where we are right now. Now you take it one at a time.”

On providing Griffin with a workout plan so he remained in football shape:
“When I talked to him I said, 'Hey, hopefully we will be in the postseason and I expect you to be in great shape.’ We can’t have any communication with him once he does leave the building. I got a chance to talk to him today. He says he’s in good shape. Hopefully there’s no setback.”

On if he needs to be activated:
“If he’s going to play that’s what we’d do.”

On ensuring that there are no let-downs during the playoffs:
“I think these football players understand that at the beginning of the season there is only one team that’s going to accomplish the ultimate goal, which is what we’re all shooting for. The first step, is to win the division, like what we talked about. The second step, is to take one game at a time. There’s either a three-or-four game season for the team that wins a Super Bowl. What you have to do is pay attention to detail every day. The same things we’ve been doing for the last seven weeks, we’ll continue to do. Hopefully, we can even do them at a higher level.”

On injuries resulting from the Week 17 game:
“[Guard] Kory Lichtensteiger has an ankle sprain. We’ll see how that is on Wednesday. Hopefully he’ll be alright. I think we’ve got some bumps and bruises, but I think [D.J.] Johnson is a little bit sore. Hopefully he’ll be OK. Other than that, I think we’re in pretty good shape.”

On the attitude of the team following the victory:
“I think everybody was really excited when they got in the locker room. It’s not easy to win the NFC East. It’s a very competitive division, so that was there. There’s a purpose and our goals aren’t accomplished. That’s the first step. We know we have an excellent football team coming in to our place. We know our fans are going to be ready, our football team will be ready. You don’t get these opportunities very often. When you do, you want to take advantage of them. We got the opportunity to play them here. The fans were a big part of our win yesterday. Hopefully they will be this Sunday.”

On how quickly his attention turned to Seattle:
“I didn’t get too concerned about them last night. We tried to celebrate a little bit. We had two or three hours in there before we got back over here, but, I’ve got a lot of respect for them. Everyone can see how they’ve been playing. They’re an excellent offensive and defensive football team. They’ve given up the fewest points in the National Football League. They have a defense playing at a very high level. Offensively, they’ve been able to run the football, score a lot of points. It’s a very well coached, very well disciplined team that’s been playing great in all areas.”

On the play clock showing no time left on the Cowboys’ first touchdown:
“You always get an explanation. Sometimes it’s not the explanation you want to hear. In my opinion, he just missed it. I was looking at the clock, too. You do it for a lot of years you’ll be able to look at the clock and once it goes to zero you look at the ball, it’s clearly not snapped. At least in my opinion, just a mistake, just a blown call.”

On having all three quarterbacks active for the first time this season:
“Dejon Gomes, we thought he was going to be up. We worked him out before the game. We could see that he was not able to cut like he would. With the guys that we had inactive, I thought Rex [Grossman] was the next best person to be up. Nobody could really help us in the special team area, or either first or second team. So, there would not have been a difference maker there. So when I took a look at all my options, I said there’s no question that Rex should be up.”

On quarterback Robert Griffin III’s knee:
“I was a little disappointed because yesterday he only averaged 10.5 yards per carry. I was hoping he would average a little bit more [laughter]. There’s always disappointment when a guy is hurting and he averages over 10 yards per carry. On the serious side, the LCL is going to take some time. Is it a month? Is it a month and a half? You really don’t know when it’s completely healed. Is he 4.5, 4.4 [speed]? I don’t know. The doctors say he’s 100 percent. We don’t have to worry about him reinjuring the LCL. The brace helps him, at least mentally knowing that he’s not putting too much pressure on it. I think that’s why sometime he looks a little bit different when he does cut. I think it bothers him just a hair. It’s something that he has to wear. Hopefully it just gets better and better.”

On how momentum and confidence assist a team in progressing through the playoffs:
“I think that it separates teams. Teams that play with a lot of confidence are used to winning, you expect to win. I’ve been in that situation a few times, where it’s a tough third quarter, a tough first quarter, fourth quarter, and you find a way to win. It’s a mindset. A lot of guys believing in each other and concentrating on their job and, at the end, finding a way to get it done. When you do that, sometimes you just get used to it and it’s one of those things that kind of separates really good teams from average teams.”

On if the confidence has changed over the last few months:
“There’s no question about it. We lost a number of games in the fourth quarter. We had some leads and were tied. You could just feel the momentum change. We had some young guys playing at a higher level. A bigger sense of urgency. We talked about the receivers and how they’ve stepped it up. A guy like [linebacker] Rob Jackson, our secondary, some of the guys who were a little inexperienced on defense who hadn’t played a lot, they’re playing more with a lot more confidence than they did in the beginning of the season. It’s a combination of a lot of different things that happened in the second half of the season to give you a chance to get to the playoffs.”

On if he thinks Griffin III’s knee is bothering him more than he’s letting on:
“No, I don’t think it’s hurting him more than he’s letting on. You have to be able to practice everyday. You watch people practice. You watch people cut. It’s just not natural to go back and run a 4.3 forty. It doesn’t happen when you’re not 100 percent. But, when you’re averaging over 10 yards per carry, that’s still pretty good, especially in the NFL. That’s not too bad.”

On if he has a personal sense of accomplishment for making the playoffs:
“I think any time you go back as a coach, you go back through your experiences. Like when I was in Denver in 2006, 2007 and 2008 people would always say, 'You’re last win as a coach was in 2005.’ We lost to Pittsburgh at home for the AFC championship, a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Then 2006, we lost our last game that would have put us in the playoffs at 10-6. In 2008, it was our last game, which if we beat San Diego we would have been division champs of the AFC West. So, you understand as a coach, unless you get it done, people forget very quickly what you’ve done. That’s why I think winning the NFC East and you get a game like that, you want to find a way to win it because once you do that momentum starts again. There are a lot of games that you play and unless you take advantage of the opportunity people forget very quickly.”

On being proud of players and coaches:
“I’m very proud of this group because there are a lot of people when you’re 3-6 who find some adversity and they’re not strong enough mentally to really go out there and practice hard, give themselves a chance to accomplish goals. You have to have strong character to take criticism and not worry about what’s being said and just focus on your job – Players as well as coaches –so I’m very proud of how they’ve handled themselves.”

On guard Josh LeRibeus:
“I think Josh has done a very good job. He’s been practicing extremely well. He’s a guy who I had no reservations putting in. Once Kory [Lichtensteiger] looked a little hobbled and was trying to play with that sprained ankle, you could see that he could not get it done, we did put him in. I had no reservations and rightfully so. He played well.”

On the improvements LeRibeus has made:
“Well, he came from a system that was quite different than the system that we’re running, so it takes some time and I just think he’s adapted pretty quickly. He’s extremely bright and he’s very powerful. He’s at a 315-320 range so I’ve liked the way he’s handled himself. You can see he brings a dimension of that quickness and toughness and hopefully he can keep on getting better.”

On how different the Seattle Seahawks offense is with rookie quarterback Russell Wilson:
“I haven’t really studied them. I’ve been just looking at our game this morning – not knowing who you’re going to play – so I can tell you more here in a couple days.”

On what it was like for him as head coach to win the NFC East:
“It’s so rewarding to come in and try to put something together, seeing the guys so excited, the coaching staff so excited. It’s what you work for. To see guys working for the last three years, 18 hours a day, in the draft room, looking at pro players, evaluating these guys, signing these guys, seeing a lot of guys making different steps learning the offense [and] defense and actually stepping up and accomplishing something, you feel really good about it. But saying that, it’s the first step. Hopefully, we can take advantage of the opportunity and play our best football here next week.”

On the communication problems in Griffin III’s helmet:
“Right from the second play of the game we had some problems with communicating with the quarterback. He could not hear us so that’s why we had to use that first timeout and I think we switched it three or four times during the game. For some reason, that communication wasn’t there.”

On rookie quarterbacks contributing to the success of teams in the NFL:
“It’s really hard to explain. As I talked about it last week a little bit, when you take a look at 40 years in the National Football League and you take a look at all first-round draft choices that play 10 or more games, there’s only seven guys with winning records. All of a sudden this year, there’s three guys with winning records. I can’t really explain that. But all three quarterbacks play at a very high level. I think it’s great for the game. I think it speaks highly about the colleges and what they’re doing with the passing attacks now to get them more accustomed to the NFL. But it’s also a credit to these quarterbacks for how they’ve played.”

On if he thought linebacker Rob Jackson would develop into the player he is today:
“Well, to be honest with you, it’s just the opposite for me. When he was on the scout team, we had a hard time blocking him. I mean Trent Williams was going against him all the time. He flip-flopped sides and whoever the right tackle was at that time, Rob would give us fits on the scout team. I just kept on thinking, 'Sooner or later, he’s going to transfer this to the field,’ and he really has once he’s had his opportunity to play and play consistently. I think he’s loosened up a little bit. He’s using his God-given talent to obviously rush the passer and play the run as well. He’s made some big plays over the last three or four games. That’s a difference in winning and losing.”

On what he thinks about NFL head coaches being fired on Black Monday:
“Well, I really haven’t had the chance to see everything. I just heard about it about an hour ago, a little less than that. It’s really tough because you’re dealing with so many families. You’re not just the head football coach. The head football coach usually has a little bit more security. Most of them have been around for a little bit. They can get coordinator jobs and different head coaching jobs. Some of them have excellent resumes. But when you’re talking about the whole staff, and everybody’s gone, it affects so many families. You can empathize with what they’re going through. It’s really a tough situation but these guys are at the top of their game. These coaches will all find jobs. You wish them the best because it’s not an easy profession.”

On what he has learned as a head coach that he might have not known before:
“Well, I think what you have to do is have really solid people. I think if you learn one thing, as you get older in coaching, is that you’re going to get the people that you feel like will give you the best chance to win. When you’re younger, you’re always looking for the best athletes. You always think that athlete is going to get you that championship and through experiences, you realize that everybody has to know their role. There’s only going to be so many great athletes on your football team and those great athletes you’re hoping they’re your leaders. Some of the guys we’ve picked up, when you take a look at a [Stephen] Bowen or a [Barry] Cofield – two of our captains elected in the middle of the season – you’re lucky enough to go in free agency and get two good quality guys that are not only good football players but set the bar for some of the younger guys and some of the older guys on your football team, along with a guy like London [Fletcher]. Then you’ve got a guy like Lorenzo Alexander not only playing on the defense in a substitute role but he’s leading on special teams. Also, these young guys, they’ve got a direction to go one way or the other and you feel like you’ve at least gotten some good draft choices with some quality character. Then, everybody raises the bar a little bit as the season goes on. And same thing on offense. I think Trent [Williams] has set a standard this year with the offensive line. We’ve got some great character guys working extremely hard. That’s the only way you’re one of the best in rushing in the National Football League. You’ve got to have everybody working together. Then you get a guy like Robert [Griffin III] who’s not only talented but is a natural leader. He’s got all the intangibles that you look for. Then you’ve got a guy like Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman. They’re pushing each other every day. You’ve got a guy like Alfred Morris that comes in that nobody thinks, since he’s a sixth-round draft choice, that he’s going to be a difference maker and all of sudden he is. So those are the things you like to see – guys working extremely hard, all going in the same direction.”

On head coaching opportunities for Kyle Shanahan:
“I don’t think, at least my opinion, at least my feeling, when I was an assistant, it’s not time to interview during the season. It’s time to concentrate on your job. After the season’s over with, I think there’s plenty of time for all those things. That’s just my gut feeling. You’ve got a job to do. You should do that first. Then after the season’s over, if somebody wants to interview him, something along those lines, I think it’s a great opportunity for an assistant coach to interview for head coaching jobs.”

On how important it is to have both experienced and rookie players on his roster for the playoffs:
“That’s a good question. I think it’s always good to have guys that are experienced, guys that have been there. But it surely doesn’t dictate which teams are going to win. I just think you have to be playing your best football once you get to the playoffs and if you are, you’ve got a chance. You go back in history and you look at a lot of different teams, fifth seeds, sixth seeds, basically recently, they’re playing their best football and they go all the way. If you’re in, you’ve got an opportunity. So, we’re hoping to take advantage of our opportunity.”

On safety Jordan Pugh:
“He’s a very conscientious guy. He works extremely hard. He’s fast, he’s quick, very attentive, attention to detail. He’s come in and learned the system. He’s helped us on special teams. That’s what you’re looking for. Guys come in, they want to help, they want to find a way to get on the field and it didn’t happen too often during the season but he’s been a big plus for us.”

On kicker Kai Forbath’s first missed field goal:
“We cut him since he missed that [laughter]. No, I mean those things happen. It was actually curving back in when you look at the end zone copy. Anyway, we’ll allow him one miss. That’s OK.”

Cornerback Josh Wilson

On how the team feels after the victory:
“Just excited that the season is continuing and we’re in the postseason. That’s what one of our goals was – to make it to the postseason. Now, all the records are thrown out and we’re all starting over. Winner takes all. We’re just going in here and concentrating on Seattle, moving past last night’s victory, because every game from now on gets us to more and more important stuff. We have a more important game coming up on Sunday.”

On what he attributes to the secondary’s turnaround:
“I think this is definitely, if not the best, one of the best games that the secondary has had because of the things we were able to do. [Cornerback DeAngelo] Hall did a magnificent job taking [wide receiver] Dez [Bryant] out of the game. [Wide receiver] Miles [Austin] was taken out of the game. None of their receivers really had an opportunity to get rolling. We confused [quarterback Tony] Romo and got pressure on him. Even when he did get the ball out, we were able to make plays on the ball.”

On if there was something the defense was doing differently:
“We had a great game plan. What our game plan was was to be able to not let Romo get comfortable back there. It worked to perfection. He was uncomfortable the whole night, always had pressure in his face, wasn’t quite sure where the blitz was coming from and where the coverage was rolling to. Mission accomplished and we won the game because of it.”

On how it changes the way cornerbacks play when they know the pressure is coming:
“To be able to make more decisive breaks. You know that the ball has to come out. If you remember the first touchdown, I felt like he had about 45 seconds back there, so he found [tight end Jason] Witten at the end. From then on, that was the last time he had any kind of time to really look and find a receiver. These guys are great players, too, and eventually someone is going to get open where if you get pressure in their face and, 'Hey, guys, hold up four or five seconds and we’re going to get home.’ It makes it hard for him if we can hold up our end of the deal.”

On what he remembers from the 2007 playoff game against the Redskins when he played for the Seahawks:
“I just remember a kickoff landing in the middle of me and Nick Burleson and you guys recovering it. I do remember Todd Collins throwing two pick-sixes that helped when I was in Seattle seal the game. We have a little better quarterback than Collins back there now. I think we’re going to have a better game than that.”

On what role the takeaways have played in the defense’s resurgence late this season:
“Turnovers are key. Every team that I’ve played for has stressed getting the ball back. That’s the point of defenses – get the ball back for the offense. When you make that a major focal point of your defense and were able to do that, stats and all the other yards go out the window. If they’re turning the ball over, it doesn’t matter. If you drive 99 yards and turn the ball over on the one-yard line, who cares about those other 99? That’s what we focus on in getting the ball back for our offense and doing whatever it takes to put them in a great position to win games.”

On what it was like to play East Coast games when he played for Seattle:
“It’s tough. This game being at 4:30 actually may help them a little bit. It’s definitely tough when you have that 1 o’clock game. It feels like about 10 o’clock to you. You wake up three hours before the game, so it’s about 7 o’clock in your mind. It’s tough to travel that long distance. I’m not sure, they’ll probably make a two day trip out of it. Then, you’re sleeping in a hotel for two days. That’s not fun either. It’s definitely a tough trip to make coming over from the West Coast to the East Coast.”

On linebacker Rob Jackson:
“We joked with [Brian] Orakpo that I’m not sure he catches all those balls that Rob’s been able to catch this year. He’s made some heck of a plays. The catches that he’s made have been amazing. He definitely was a hidden gem and has made a name for himself. That’s how careers are made in this league. You get an opportunity to step up and play and be a starter and come out there as a down guy and get to see how long you last in this league. Now, he’s made a name for himself where he’s going to have an extended career because of this year.”

On Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett cooking up defensive schemes like a mad scientist:
“I definitely think these game plans that Haslett has come up with have been, if not the reason, a major reason why we’ve been so successful on defense in getting these wins and sealing these games. Sometimes, you don’t understand what a mad scientist is doing. But in the end, you look back on it and say, 'Oh, that was an amazing call. I don’t know how he knew to do that.’ It’s great. He’s calling the heck out of some games and I’m glad that it’s working out for everybody.”

On if this win vindicates the team being beat up in the court of public opinion at 3-6:
“We always knew, I always knew that we had the capability to do this. The games that we lost early on, besides the Pittsburgh one, weren’t that far out of reach. Most of the games were lost on the last possession. We were right there. What we figured out these last seven weeks is how to win those games on the last possession. If you go back and look at the other games, there was one drive, one drive here or there that has changed our destiny. We’ve been able to take care of these wins. It was all about finishing and that was the point that we made and stressed was being able to finish the games in the second half and the fourth quarter on defense. It’s come to fruition.”

On Hall’s coverage of Dez Bryant:
“He showed us the [DeAngelo] Hall that all of us knew was in him. He took Dez Bryant out of the game. Dez never really got into a groove. Even the catches he had, he worked for every yard he got. That’s what D is capable of doing. He has that ability and it was just exciting to see him come in and step up the way he did last night.”

On the decision to keep the coverage instead of switching out:
“It was a matchup thing. We had the ability to put them on the ownness on D Hall and I, to be able to have him with Dez and my matchup with Miles. We knew if we could take care of our end of the deal and do our job that our defense would be successful and our team would win. We liked it. We liked the ownness being on us and the team put it on us. We were able to step up and win for our team.”

On getting cornerback Cedric Griffin back this week:
“That’s another dog to the fight. He was playing some great defense. He was exciting. He was running around like crazy. This is just going to give us more ammo to our group right now who’s firing off all cylinders. I can’t wait to get Cedric back. It’s going to allow us to do even more than we’ve been able to do.”

On what they missed without him and what he adds to the defense:
“Just the veteran player. Just to have a veteran back there and the long arm press abilities that Cedric has and just the non-stop engine that he has. He’s a very competitive player. Just being a veteran out there and being in the league for so long, you understand situations better than someone who may not have played [as long] or may not have had as much experience. [He is] a player who knows the game and plays it at a high level. It’s just the experience. In playoff time that’s what you’re going to need in these tough situations.
Having watched the game again, I made sure to pay closer attention to LeRiebus. He looked good. He played with an edge...grit. That is one thing I do admire about the Patriots team, their OL plays like that. I saw that from our OL this year at times and when Josh went in there last night he played nasty.
Think Jackson could slide over and take Fletcher's spot
The Redskins have a big decision coming on Orakpo. Do the Redskins resign him to a multiyear extension and hope he continues to develop at 26 into more of an all-around linebacker while continuing to be a mainstay on the pass rush?

Or does the team resign Jackson and let the OLBs compete for the spots acknowledging that the cap hit at the position will be fairly high with Orakpo, Kerrigan and a resigned Jackson in the fold?

Jackson seems to be doing it both ways and that is something we have not seen consistently from either Orakpo or Kerrigan.
I am not sure you can invest so much in Orakpo. He has missed significant time the last 2 seasons and we cannot commit limited resources hoping he will be back to speed...which in coverage is not near as good as Jackson. I really wish the Rams hadn't been so stacked at the DL positions and we could have included Rak in the trade for Griff.

Jackson will benefit with Carriker back in the lineup and hopefully a true NT so we don't have to rely too much on Cofield. He is performing adequately, but you can see he is wearing at the position. We definitely need more pass rush, but we need it from the middle of the line and that alone will make Jackson better in the pass rush.
Things would be easier to discern at OLB if Kerrigan steps up and takes on a leadership role and starts to play more consistently and productively.
Things would be easier to discern at OLB if Kerrigan steps up and takes on a leadership role and starts to play more consistently and productively.

It was helpful when they started moving him around. He has proven to work well in coverage and has a high motor. Just like Jackson, he will benefit more when he gets more rush from the inside. they have been able to double and chip away at him since Carriker's injury!
So, do we strike while the iron is hot and trade Rak in the offseason for a couple of draft picks - say a 2nd and a 6th or 7th?

Count me as one who would consider it.
If we could get a 2nd for him, I would take it. He just doesn't fit this scheme. Houston was willing to walk away from their former #1 overall pick because he didn't fit their scheme. They didn't get anything for him. If we have an opportunity to get something for Rak, we should.
So, do we strike while the iron is hot and trade Rak in the offseason for a couple of draft picks - say a 2nd and a 6th or 7th?

Count me as one who would consider it.

I'd do it. The pec injury is going to be a problem for the rest of his career, and quite frankly, he's never been the player I expected him to become.
Do we really think a team is going to give us a 2nd coming of injury though? If we could get one that high then sure we should consider it, but I'm not convinced the interaction be there.
I will be the contrarian here. Orakpo is still young. You guys seem to think he is incapable of improving or learning. I don't believe that. He is still a beast at times and I think we would be foolish to trade him. The injury issue will either resolve itself, or it won't, but that alone would drop his trade value way down anyway, making that a poor option.

Keep Orakpo, and keep coaching him up. We'll be glad we did.

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